Two Liberal backbenchers are preparing to support a cross-party bill supporting same-sex marriage that they hope will be introduced to federal parliament next month, pending a decision by the selection committee.
Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP) MPs Warren Entsch and Teresa Gambaro will co-sponsor a private member’s bill, which will be seconded by Labor backbencher Terri Butler.
Other co-sponsors will include Labor MP Laurie Ferguson, Greens MP Adam Bandt and independents Cathy McGowan and Andrew Wilkie.
Liberal backbencher Ewen Jones, who wants a free vote on the issue, called for the bill to be debated as quickly as possible ‘rather than pulling the Bandaid off one hair at a time’.
‘Lets rip the thing off and get it done,’ he told ABC radio.
He says he doesn’t want to see the debate descend into name-calling and aggression.
Labor frontbencher Penny Wong said it was unfortunate that the prime minister appeared to be baulking at the bill.
‘It’s very unfortunate that Tony Abbott keeps putting up different obstacles to marriage equality coming to a vote,’ she told ABC radio.
But a government whip who is a member of the selection committee says MPs who think there’ll be a vote on the bill any time soon have ‘rocks in their head’.
‘Anyone who thinks that this should be prioritised over economic or national security issues has rocks in their head and is totally misreading the needs of the Australian people,’ member of the committee Andrew Nikolic told ABC radio on Thursday.
Whether or not the bill is voted on is up to the government, which controls the numbers in the lower house, the senator said.